VGT Board of Management Meeting Communique: April 2012
The Royal Canadian Mounted Police, a founding member of the VGT, hosted the 1st meeting of 2012 at the Police College in Ottawa, Canada between 17 – 18 April. Over the two-day meeting the Board of Management (BoM) focussed on the significance of ‘Strategic Collaboration’ in combatting the online sexual exploitation of children.
With the 5th biennial VGT Conference approaching this December, the BoM were presented with an update on the conference program and actions undertaken by the Centralised Coordination Committee (CCC), an entity formed by representatives from within the VGT alliance, to project manage the event.
The conference will encapsulate the theme of International Collaboration: An Enabler for Prevention and will bring law enforcement, non-government organisations; academia; internet service providers; communication providers; multinational technology corporations and telecommunication agencies together over three-days to examine the impact of sexual exploitation on its victims. It will enhance the understanding of offenders and offender behaviour whilst emphasising the corporate responsibility of all sectors to ensure the safety of children online. The conference will be hosted by the United Arab Emirates between 11-13 December 2012 in Abu Dhabi.
The presentation addressed the ‘Call for Papers’, a concept adopted by organisations, to encourage experts in this realm, to submit innovative strategies and research relevant to the conference objectives. The deadline for the ‘Call for Papers’ is 1 July 2012 with details available through the dedicated conference website. Submissions will undergo an evaluation process by the CCC against the conference objectives with formal notifications issued to the authors in August 2012.
The CCC were pleased to advise the BoM that a Sponsorship Prospectus would soon be available on the website for companies interested in supporting the VGT and its global effort towards prevention and disruption. Sponsorship submissions will again be reviewed by the CCC and approved by the BoM.
With the focus on strategic collaboration, the BoM received a number of presentations from the private sector, in relation to the mutual effort of safeguarding children online. The first was provided by the DNA Foundation, a non-profit organisation founded by Ashton Kutcher and Demi Moore, investing in innovative technology solutions to fight child sexual exploitation. The BoM were briefed on a number of programs undertaken within the United States, with an expression of interest to broaden those internationally with the assistance of the VGT. The DNA Foundation has narrowed its mission more recently to focus on technology. It is confident that through the VGT it may assist in identifying innovative ideas around how technology can be used to fight child sexual exploitation. Further discussions will be undertaken with the CCC to identify possible opportunities during the 2012 Conference for the DNA Foundation.
The second presentation was provided by Research In Motion (RIM), the designer of BlackBerry branded smartphones. The presentation highlighted RIM’s interest in working with law enforcement to assist in bridging the gap between technology and combatting the online sexual exploitation of children. The BoM were briefed on Blackberry’s global footprint and as one of the largest social mobile networks operating their own infrastructure, acknowledged their corporate social responsibility to protecting children. The presentation further addressed a number of applications BlackBerry has launched in the realm of prevention and disruption and underlined their interest in partnering the VGT as a Private Sector Partner to promote strategic collaboration.
The meeting provided an opportunity for the BoM to be briefed on existing VGT projects, endorsed to strengthen the ongoing commitment towards combatting online sexual exploitation. Europol is leading an Environmental Scan on behalf of the VGT, which will include a literature review; an analysis of current trends and identifying the future risks and vulnerabilities of this area of criminality. The findings of this review will be presented during the 2012 VGT Conference.
A new project endorsed by the BoM is on psychological research involved in combatting the online sexual exploitation of children. The project will involve a stocktake of current employment practices within the VGT network, highlighting the tools utilised for selection and the ongoing monitoring required to support staff working in the child protection realm. The project will be led by the Italian Postal Communication Police Service and its findings may feature during the 2012 VGT Conference.
Other projects that were addressed included the recent success of the VGT at the 80th INTERPOL General Assembly and the results of the Resolution presented recommending a ‘best practice’ model through a Legislative Global Engagement Strategy. The Council of Europe through a Declaration of Intent have provided the foundation for the VGT to encourage legislative enhancement through existing frameworks. The VGT will continue to work closely with the Council of Europe to identify future legislative impediments and the importance of law enforcement providing more of a disruption role in areas associated to cybercrime.
It was evident throughout the meeting that the VGT profile continues to increase. This is a credit to the Communications Sub-group and the work being undertaken by the alliance. The VGT will continue to feature in international forums as it has cemented itself as the largest international network focussing on combating the online sexual exploitation of children. The BoM also welcomes a number of new private partners into the taskforce, which will formally be announced on the VGT website.
The VGT is committed through strategic collaboration to influence change and identify innovative solutions to protect children online.
The next BoM meeting will be hosted by the Ministry of Interior for the United Arab Emirates in December 2012.